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tv   News  Al Jazeera  January 31, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm EST

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three foyer five. >> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris. breaking news, a new allegation that chris christie knew about the controversial lane closures as they happened. a big hurdle just cleared for the keystone pipeline. the state department says it has no major environmental objections. a new effort to help millions of americans who have been unemployed the longest and dozens of companies have signed on to change how they hire. a protestor in ukraine
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claims he was kidnapped, beaten and crucified as the country battles on the brink of civil war. >> and again, we top this newscast with breaking news. the "new york times" reports that the port authority official who personally oversaw the controversial lane closures in new jersey is saying that governor crest christie knew about the closings as they were happening. and he says he has the evidence to prove it in a letter his lawyer released. david wild stein says the orders to close the lanes on the george washington bridge came from the christie administration and says evidence exists, tying christie to it, temporary contemporary to what the governor has said repeatedly. john, i'm glad you are here
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because you have been covering this with me. and covering it for the channel. >> yeah. >> we remember -- i wish i could remember the date of the news conference off the top of my head whether you were here with me when the governor issued as flat a denial as all encompassing a denial to these allegations of involvement of knowing anything about it as we have probably heard in political life. the thing is the evidence had been building slowly against governor christie ever since this issue came to life and there were a lot of commentators who were very unhappy what he had to say in the two hour news conference that he gave, from the pulpit that he has just outside his office at the statehouse in trenton. there were lots and lots and lots of unanswered questions. you have the bridge closure and the mayor -- >> for four days! >> four days. and then you have the mayor of jersey city, the mayor of boca making allegations that they were distanced from the
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administration because they failed to support his reelection bid. on the day of the state of the state, a photograph was published showing chris christie with david wild stein which was day 3 of closures. that photograph disappeared swiftly but ever saw it. and now you have wildstein making these allegations through a lawyer. he is a very important to chris christie. they went to school together. high school together. in that news conference chris christie referenced that he had only had a handledful of conversations with david wildstein and then the photograph came out and now wildstein is saying that the governor knew about the lane closures and he has evidence. now, as with the story throughout we now must see what the evidence is. but, if you have somebody that you went to school with, who is a political appointee, who you have distanced yourself from saying the exact
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opposite, the excuses are running out, i think for the administration in new jersey. >> so john, i want you to stay with me here because -- we need to get to this, but stay here and believe me, there will be plenty of opportunities. did you want to add something? >> to reminded our viewers that it is important because governor christie until this moment was the front-runner in the gop race in 2016, potentially i against hillary clinton. >> poll numbers have been declining. >> but not significantly. >> don't write him off yet. >> this is explosive. >> i would think it is a damaging blow. stay here. matt arco is with us now. he is a political reporter for -- matt, what is the name of the publication? into it is politicker nj. good to talk to you. what do you think of the news being reported by the "new york times"? >> sure, thanks for having me. it is certainly some impressive news coming out
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here friday afternoon. we are all kind of gathering what is going on here. but like you folks said, this is -- this could be explosive news here. and of course we to have wait to see what the evidence is. but, you know -- >> well -- >> well, matt, let's walk through what apparently we know now, at least reporting from the "new york times." because if what the "new york times" is reporting bears out it is indeed explosive information. so, david wildstein and let me have you go through the cast of characters here. who is david wildstein? >> so david wildsteen is a former port authority official. he wasn't appointed by governor christie but the number two to one of governor christie port authority appointees, former state senator. >> and why is he important to this story request am. >> well, david wildstein's name comes up. he was the individual who is
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being the one who directly ordered the lanes be closed on the george washington bridge. subpoenaed documents that came out later suggested that david wildstein himself gave the authorities to hey, the bridge or close the lanes of the bridge. and then later, in the same document badge suggested that folks within the administration gave the okay. >> we can fill in even more of the blanks. wasn't david wildstein who received the e-mail from the deputy chief of staff bridget ann kelly saying time for some traffic trouble in new jersey? >> right, right. at fort lee, correct. >> fort lee. so that is david wildstein what you suggesting is that david wildstein was in a position to actually order the lane closures, correct? into right. the evidence suggested that he was the one that the port authority officials that actually implemented the lane closures were taking orders
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from david wildstein. he was the higher up port authority official who said yes, we are going to be closing all lanes for you know later said to be a traffic -- >> as we walk through this, david wildstein actually testified didn't he in front of a committee of the legislature looking into this and he -- he took the fifth, didn't he? >> right. he didn't have a lot to say. he took the fifth. he didn't really discuss anything at all. during that same hearing his attorney alluded to -- it might have been right after the hearing that they -- that he might be willing to discuss things if he is grand immunity which has not happened that we know of this -- you know, i don't know if this litter has anything to do with that. but that was clone out there by his attorney which suggested that david wildenstein has a story to tell and maybe we will be
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hearing more from david wildstein. >> matt, stay here. we will continue to work through this. don't go anywhere. you wanted to jump in? >> matt, what evidence do you think david wildstein has. >> he has got to have e-mails or text messages, wouldn't you think matt? >> it is very possible. because the amount -- what is being discussed and disclosed in the e-mails i think surprised me, surprised other reporters on press row. so yeah, that is quite possible there are other e-mails out there. i don't want to jump to conclusions. if he says he has evidence, i'm certainly interested to see what it is that is out there. >> is there anything to suggest in the early reporting, and we have got more questions and answers at this point, i understand that. that perhaps david wildstein has been granted immunity for this information that is at least being proffered in this letter by the attorney? >> yeah. you know, i wouldn't be able to answer that. i'm really not sure. >> the question may be more important to put out there than any answer we know at this point.
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>> right. >> but at least that something is worth following up on, wouldn't you think? >> agreed. like i said, his lawyer did kind of throw that out there on the onset. hey, if he is granted immunity he is willing to talk. so, he kind of played it out there that david wildstein might have something to say. >> so take us to the day of that what, two hour news conference. did you remember the date of the news conference? >> i believe it was early january, it could have been january 9th, i believe. >> all right. you were covering that, correct? >> right, correct. >> have you in your memory, can you remember a politician giving such an all-encompassing denial of the details of this particular story as we heard from chris christie on that day? >> well, no. i mean, and you kind of hit the nail on the head. chris christie has this nearly two hour long press conference which was a way i imagine for him to stand up there and let reporters ask him every single
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question that is on their mind. and he took the time to answer it. ways there for the press conference. it was certainly the longest press conference i ever had governing christie for two years now. and you know. so he certain sly took the time to answer every single question the press had for him up to that day. >> matt, it is john again. what do you think christie's response will be? when will we hear from him? >> good question. he has been kwai tet past week or so. he has been in front of the cameras. it is really hard to safe when the next time that he will have a press avail will be. i saw his press people in the statehouse and i was asking when do you think we will be able to ask the governor questions. i didn't get a clear date. but certainly it didn't sound like there was anything on the immediate horizon. >> well, let me introduce the audience again. this is matt arco, he is a political writer for
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politicker nj, did i get that right this time? >> yes. into terrific. >> i want to get want to take you back to the news. and the reason in that news conference i remember chris christie said i didn't know anything about it. and more than that people on that staff lied to me. people who have been loyal to me, people who have been in my inner circle -- am i correct john? >> people lied to me,correct? >> right. right. he said that you know, the first that he knew about it was pretty much when everything was reported. i guess request it was earlier that day or just around then. >> so, he was pretty emphatic that this was new information. he did not know about the lane closures. this came after the fact and he was quick to terminate the officials or the -- one of the cabinet officials that he said lied to him. and he distanced himself from the other official bill stepia n. >> well, he fired bridget ann
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kelly, correct? >> correct. >> let's listen to this and we will wrap this up here in a second. into this is the denial from chris christie from the news conference we have been referring to. it was on thursday january 9th. let's listen. >> i had no knowledge or involvement in this issue in its planning or its execution. and i am stunned by the be aject stupidity that was shown here. >> so matt, as you hear that. as you listen to that fresh anew with the back drop being this reporting from the "new york times," what are you thinking? >> well, look, i mean, he put all his chips out on the table. he put them all there. he said that i didn't know about this. if evidence comes up that suggests at some point maybe shortly there after the lane closure controversy or shortly
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after the lanes were closed and he knew about it, i think it backs him into a corner. probably shouldn't jump the gun and go down there until we seed what what evidence is out there. but, you know, it is -- if something comes outs that clearly demonstrates that the governor knew before then i mean, it certainly you know, it certainly puts things into perspective. and it won't be too good politically, i would imagine. in and matt would you expect to hair more from wildstein's lawyers? >> yeah, it is hard to say. but his lawyer certainly says there is more out there. so folks are going to be very interested to determine what that is. >> well wait a minute. so this is a letter at this point. it may be an attempt to win immunity for his client david wildstein. we don't know that has transpired. but you make this proffer of the information you have in a case like this.
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does it put pressure, you think, matt on the authorities if a deal hasn't been reached on immunity for david wildstein to grant him community? >> that is a possibility too. it is a good point to bring up. and as i said it's something that the lawyer threw out there. >> yes. hey, grant my client immunity. this could be a case where he is just looking for immunity and could like you said just throwing something out there. so it is important not to rush to judgment and see what the evidence is, but it certainly is grabbing headlines here on late friday afternoon. >> we will let you do your work and maybe we can get you back on the program here soon. matt arco, political writer for politicker nj. matt, appreciate your time thank you. another big story we are following here. the keystone ebel pipeline. >> this is what i have been looking at all day. this is a political and environmental soap opera like
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the chris christie administration that has been going on since 2008. but it has very, very dire potentially political and economic and environmental ramifications. it is the keystone exel pipeline. it is going to cost 5.4 billion to put together. the idea is to get the tar sands out of alberta canada through a pipeline that runs all the way down the country to the refineries that the united states has in the gulf of mexico. now today the state department issued a final environmental impact stud bring. which we have all been waiting for. and they basically say the heavy oil -- >> it is not like stuff you put in the car it is heavy, groupy, thick, you need to pound it to turn it into gas and diesel. they say that in order to make it useful, you do need to expend more energy on it than you would on ordinary oil extraction. however, that is unlikely to face the -- unlikely tow
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change the pace. a spokesperson speaking off the record said in other words they are no going to row this back. they are going to develop the oil sands in alberta. they are talking about if we don't build a keystone then they will put a pipeline into british columbia. and the point is if the united states doesn't refine it then the chinese will. and that dove stales with the state department's preliminariry findings. >> am i correct in my memory that the president was waiting for this report to make some kind of final decision? >> this is one of those issues that could define president obama's presidency. because you are yesesling with creating jobs for americans which is terribly important. on the other hand, environmental impact. they have actually recommended and are now diverting the direction of this to avoid a major aquifer. but the point is, if the pipe were built and it was leaked would it cause environmental damage for farmers in the midwest.
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that is the kind of issue we are up against. it is now going to dovetail with the midterm elections which are coming up. and there is severe pressure with some democrats saying to president obama please, please, will you approve this. otherwise the republicans are making a real play for the senate as you know. here now jay carney the white house spokesperson touched on the issue making the report. but it is not the last word on the matter. >> it does not or will not represent a decision, but rather another step in the process. there will be an opportunity after the release of the eis for both the public and other government agencies to comment before the state department makes its final national interest determination. >> now it is in the hands of secretary of state john kerry. he will be talking to eight government agencies. one month public consultation period as well. he will decide whether keystone goes ahead or not but
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is saying to us, there is no date on which secretary kerry has to come up with a decision. so he could let it slip beyond the midterms in theory. busy top of the show. thank you. sake of state john kerry is in germany to meet with protest leaders from ukraine. he says ukraine's isn't doing enough to end the conflict in that country. yanokovich has signed a law to drop charges against protesters if they leave the building. but this uprising activists now claim they are being attacked by government forces. to get details on this, let's turn to jennifer glass covering this for us in kiev. >> good to see you. >> tony, today i think the big story has really been the story of one activist who stands in. they claim there have been harassed and attacked. they have gotten threatening
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text messages. but this activist was missing for eight days. he disappeared out of the blue, vanished into thin air eight days ago and was found last night. he was found bruised, bloodied, beaten, very, very badly hurt. he said he was crucified. he says he was nailed to a door and beaten by men. he couldn't identify because it was in the dark. and he was hiding. it is a very, very brutal story. some of the images might be disturbing. he was beaten and left for dead in ukraine. opposition activists says he is lucky to be alive. >> i was crustfied. i have got holes in my hands. a part of my ear was cut off. they cut my face. there is not a spot on my body that hasn't been beaten. i couldn't tell who they were. because it was always dark where they kept me. but the accent was russian. i will tell you more later. now i cannot see very well because i have been in darkness for so long.
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>> it was a thorn in the side of the government. the organized vehicle convoys. he isn't the only one who has disappeared. an independent monitor says there are about 30 people still missing. relatives don't want the talk about them in public because they are afraid of making the situation worse. they just want to see their loved ones come home alive. >> every night volunteers record what they have learned each day for an online radio station to share what they know about -- >> the most notorious cases of civil crime abuses, missing persons,ed persons and god forbid there are any persons who lost their life. >> their hot line helps keep track of the missing, and they have a list of lawyers who will help ukranians who have been arrested or detained. >> it is important even to
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know what they can do, what they are not to do, what they are entitled to do because the legal -- of the people is not -- >> in a new report they accuse the ukranian police of attacking journalist and medics earlier this month. it is a pattern of abuse they have seen before and call for an investigation. as he left to meet with u.s. secretary of state in germany, one of the opposition leaders called for the same. >> in munich we will insist on an international investigation of all killing, torture and kidnapping of people and the fact that journalists are being targeted and shot at. today's events represents proof that in ukraine death squads just like those in latin america have appeared. >> in indiana square at the heart of the opposition demonstrations, they read names of missing in hope that
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someone might know something and ensure that those who are out of sight are not out of mind. and tony, tonight the white house has said it is appalled by reports of abuse, and it too is calling for investigations. and here in kiev a surreal situation at the hospital where he has been treated. the police went there. they say to interrogate him, to ask him -- to investigate but also the interior ministry say he is a suspect. he is accused of inciting riots here and there are pictures of police trying to drag him out of his bed, out of his hospital bed here. and so right now members of parliament are protecting him, they have immunity. they will stay around the clock but a real sense here of how surreal the situation can get here. today president did sign into law an amnesty bill that would free many people who are in prison and the more than 200 people who have been detained.
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but that won't happen until opposition supporters leave government buildings they have occupied and don't plan to do that tony. >> okay, jennifer. coming up, a new study linking tracking to birth defects. we will look at connections between where you live and what the risks are. >>
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>> the first round of syrian peace talks in geneva ended today with no sign of a deal and not clear if the government and opposition will meet again any time soon. but the nine days they spent negotiating were deadly days inside syria. the syrian observatory for human rights said today that 1900 people have been killed since january 22. more than 407 were civilians. the group says they include 40 people who died from inadequate access to food and medicine in areas under siege from government forces. nick shiffrin joins us now from jen's slay. in light of those numbers, i'm
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wondering how the principals who worked to make jen eva happen. >> well he will say this will be very, very difficult and is asking for patience. i'm not good at math but that is over 10 people an however dying inside syria while we have been talking here about what the delegates from both sides very doing. and really you get the sense of where is this going. and that is what he is asked. why aren't you doing things faster. why can't you get more things done. he gave a press conference. tried to bring the two sides together publicly. he talk about a list of things that both agree on. he says both agree that the violence has gotten too far. he says both agree on the geneva communique. this is the document that requires both sides to talk
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about political transition. but in reality, the government wants to talk about terrific and stopping the violence first. that is not going to happen. the opposition wants to talk about humanitarian issues. wants to talk about localized sees fires. they are still talking past each other. and he was asked about that. he said everyone be patient. and said look, we are trying our best. >> there are a lot of people -- first of all syrians and i'm sure that the overwhelming majority of the syrians went to this horrible situation. and i'm also certain that a lot of people in the world also want that to happen. and as far as i am concerned, as far as the united states is concerned. we will spare no effort to make it happen. but, you know, the syrian parties, those who have guns have got also to think of
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their people. >> and tony, it is those people who are suffering. not only the death toll we talked about, but also the humanitarian aspect. just take the old city of homes which is just a fraction of the problem inside syria. a thousand families have not had food, water or medicine for a year. there are 12 convoys right outside the city sitting there right now. only a few00 feet from some of those people. the u.s. and opposition says the regime is blocking the access. it is not clear when those peoples inside the old city will ever get that aid. >> it is just ridiculous. nick shiffrin for us in geneva. >> we continue to follow the breaking news that new jersey governor chris christie may have known, may have known about those controversial lane closures. a port authority official says he has the proof.
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you up dated on the breaking news. the official who oversaw the controversial lane closures in new jersey says governor chris christie knew about the closings when they were happening and he says he has evidence to prove it. >> you mentioned this letter. i have got a copy. i haven't been able to sort through giants. other than the top paragraph which seems to suggest that this is a communication from the lawyer for david wild stein an attempt to get legal fees covered, wildstein's legal fees covered, that is where we begin here. into well, let's begin like this. just reminded ourselves this is so important because governor christie, although he is the governor of new jersey, he is a national politician right now. someone who until all this broke out was on the tipping point of running for the gop at the top of the ticket in 2016. that's why this is all so
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important. we now have a letter come from the lawyer of a friend of chris christie who is david wildstein, the man who ordered d the lane closures at the george washington bridge. he wasn't directly appointed by chris christie but worked for the man that was. and this letter is on the face of it asking for help in legal fees because david wildstein has already taken the fifth under the oath as is his right and he will have to testify again and the lawyer was longing for some financial help in that. the key paragraph is third from the bottom. it has come to lie that a person within the christie administration communicated the order that certain lanes on the george washington bridge were to be closed and evidence exists as well as tying mr. christie to having knowledge of the lane closures during the period when the lanes were closed. contemporary to what they state publicfully a two-hour press conference he gave
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immediately before mr. wildstein whose schedule appears before the transportation committee. mr. wildstein contests the accuracy of the various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove this inaccuracy of some. so that is the paragraph. >> let's do this. there is the there is the key paragraph. the statements made by chris christie. lett take a moment and listen to again, that statement, that blanket denial of any knowledge of the lane closures. from that news conference. >> over two hours. on january -- >> hur cue leean vent. lett listen to the blanket denial. >> i had no knowledge or involvement in this issue in its planning or its execution. and i am stunned by the be
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aject stupidity that was shown here. >> so we are juxtaposing it. >> that's the denial. >> and let's get back to this key paragraph. this is from the lawyer of david wildstein. the man who ordered the lane closures on the bridge of the port authority. evidence exists as as well as tying mr. christie to having knowledge of the lane closures during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated. mr. wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some. >> now it is very important to say that we, you know, this is just a letter -- >> and it is a representation. we haven't seen the proof. >> we don't know if they are e-mails, text messages.
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whatever. we don't know. it is just a representation. >> the important thing is that this is -- this is another brick in the wall in evidence against governor christie because we have the lane closures. and then we have the mayors of jersey city in hoboken saying they were deliberately distanced from the administration after they failed to back christie for his reelection bid in november. awe have the federal investigation going on on whether the first founding misused funds from hurricane sandy to promote the bringing back of the jersey shore but the doing so put the governor front and stern. and now this. and the reason it is a little bit more significant i think than it might otherwise be, there was a photograph published in the "wall street journal" on the day of the state of the state a couple of weeks ago. and that photograph was taken down quickly, but we all saw it. unless it was photo shopped, it appeared to be a picture of governor christie and david
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wildstein attending the 9/11 memorial event. >> let's do it quickly. let's tell a story here. you mentioned the reelection campaign. >> yeah. >> part of the reason chris christie has been thought of a potential nominee is because he has this crossover appeal. he is a republican governor in a blue state, right? that is part of the story here. >> and this may have been what -- if all of this is finally proven to be true, he was up to because governor christie is very, very keen to be seen to be bipartisan because he knows if he runs at the top of the gop ticket potentially against hillary clinton, then in order to win that race, if he has to stand a chance of winning it for the republicans, he needs to be seen to be bipartisan, bring democrats with him and republicans just as he does unon crucially swing voters, just as he does in new jersey.
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and that is why the administration was so keen to try and get all these mayors on board. democrats. had he gotten them all on board he could have said to the gop, the gray men who run the party, i'm bipartisan. i can do this. and that is why when the mayors didn't support him, the narrative now appears to be that they were angry about that, there was some petty retaliation and now just to finish off the thought seems that a good friend and somebody who actually handled the physical lane closures themselves is now throwing governor christie under the bus. but i caution you we have to wait and see what the evidence is. >> all right, john, appreciate it. thank you. president obama launched a new effort to help those who have been unemployed the longest get back to work. >> it is a cruel catch-22. the longer you are unemployed the more unemployable you may seem. now, this is an illusion, put
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it's one that unfortunately we know statistically is happening out there. >> well the president says dozens of companies have agreed to change their hiring practices and stop discriminating against people who have been out of work for a long time that's a tough word, discriminating. he also announced the 150 million grant to help nonprofit groups working to connect companies with the long term unemployed. mike viqueira joins us now and has the latest on this from the white house. good to see you. >> hi tony. it continues to be the black cloud with a silver lining. the brightening economic picture, despite the government shut down, housing improve, manufacturing, all across the board. but the unemployment situation still very bad. yes, it is down to 6.7%, the left since before the great recession. but, when you look at the labor participation rate, so people just giving up trying to find work, that rate now
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63% as high as it has been, the highest it has been since the carter administers. part of that now, the result the consequence of all this long term unemployment. we know the story here in washington, the house, the senate, they left town at the end of last year without extending those long term unemployment benefits. now people who are unemployed for longer than six months being kicked off the rolls have no more benefits and that is something that the president through this message today is trying to push congress to do. in the meantime, the president has talked about using his pen and phone. he can work around the edges. yes it is on the margins and yes it is incremental. but he has got the companies more than 300 from all shapes and sizes, many fortune 500 companies, a whole list of them agreeing to work with the white house to get rid of this discrimination. it might be overt or subtle but data suggests that those who are unemployed for a long time do not get a fair shake at the human resources department of many major american companies. here is the president. >> on tuesday i delivered my
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state of the union address. i said while the economy is getting stronger and businesses like yours have created more than 8 million new jobs over the past four years our unemployment rate is lower than it has been in over five years, we all know we still have got a lot more to do to build an economy where everybody who is willing to work hard and take responsibility can get ahead. >> it has been a long week for the president that started on tuesday night with the state of the union. he took to the road hitting the themes. talking about income disparity. getting specific about income wage hike. retirement plans and education. capping it off with this event. >> all right, mike, thank you. >> three weeks ago a leak from a freedom industry facility in charleston west virginia tainted the water supply for 300,000 people. that highlights a lot of concerns about the chemicals used to treat coal.
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residents say they are still living with the effects. jonathan martin has that story. >> the gentle trickle of a mountain spring was the very thing she sought when she moved here. >> so kids could play in the creek. we wanted our grandkids to play the way we played. >> but as it would turn out, the water flowing from the tap was less than pure. harmed by what locals say is the coal which fuels their economy. >> by 2007 maria says people were getting sick including six people on a single street who developed brain tumors. high levels of arsenic and other toxins were in the water. when coal is refined it is washed with chemicals. the waste is pumped behind earthenned dams could empoundments or underground in a process known as injection.
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state officials dispute the groundwater was contaminated. west virginia university researchers found otherwise. >> they were dumping that stuff underground by the billions of gallons and we had no idea, had no idea whatsoever that they were doing that. or that there was a permit issued for it. we didn't know any of that stuff. >> in 2008, residents filed suit against two mining companies. massey energy later acquired by alpha natural resources and patriot cole. the suit alleged that the coal slury contaminate water. they signed a confidential no fault settlement. neither could would comment to al jazeera. residents think it was publicity from the lawsuit that pushed officials to let them abandon their wells and connect them to the municipal water supply. but even today, many still do not drink that water. >> here she is. a little girl. and there she is when she passed away.
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>> pamela believes years of exposure to the chemicals claimed her mother's life too soon. she refuses to take chances with her own health. >> none of these lines were ever changed. the hot water heater wasn't changed. that water is still in our lines juniors it is still coming through. and i just don't trust it. >> after what the town has been through, maria lambert has little faith the recent chemical spill in charleston will significantly change regulations in the mountain state. >> then you find out that the government that is supposed to be the keepers of the castle or the keepers of the land are allowing all of this to happen, you are pretty mad. >> left feeling betrayed she is using her voice advocating change in a place where the economy and environment depend on each other for better and for worse. jonathan martin, al jazeera, printer, west virginia. another cruise ship with
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sick passengers docks in texas. what is going on here? maria joins us for a look at that story. >> thanks. cruise ships have been getting a bad rap lately. and this story won't help their public relations. another cruise liner had to abort its trip after its passengers contracted a contagious virus. the caribbean princess left port in pasadena, california earlier this week. only to stop in houston because 170 passengers of the nearly 4,000 on board got sick. the cdc boarded the ship today to ensure its san diego'station before next departure. this follows a royal caribbean liner who had to cut its trip short after 600 people became sick with a gastrointestinal illness. natural gas spilling from a drilling rig south of lafayette, louisiana has been partially fixed. officials lost control of the rig thursday but energy ventures which operates the drill says no pollution has reached the gulf of mexico.
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nonessential cruise members were evacuated and there have been no reports of ex -- explosions or fires. the reason is still unknown. in montana, a catholic diocese is going broke because they have to pay sexual abuse victims. the diocese filed for bankruptcy today ahead of two sexual abuse settlements. the lawsuits claim clergy members abused 350 children and also says the diocese knew about it. the state's u.s. bankruptcy court will to have pay the $15 million as well as compensation for victims who come forward later. the helena diocese covers 23 counties in western, montana. in california, 17 rural communities are in danger of running out of water in 100 days. that's according to california's department of public health. after governor jerry brown declared a brought emergency two weeks ago, he met with water managers to find a solution to the state's worst drought on record. he called for extreme
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congesvation from residents but state water experts say these problems demonstrate the need for more long term solutions. >> and in salt lake city, utah a cafeteria manager at a local elementary school and district supervisor have been placed on leave. the are accuse of taking money away from kids who had money due on the lunch bill. those who had overdue accounts had their food taken away. some parents say they were not informed of the past due balance and are outraged that the school would take such harsh measures. that is just embarrassing. >> ridiculous. >> all right. >> and all his friends are eating and -- yeah. see you back at 6. >> coming up on al jazeera america. a chew study that links fracking to birth defects. and dennis rodman says today he will trade places with kenneth bay the american
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missionary locked up in north korea. >> >> now in a continuing series, join ali velshi as we follow families, just like yours, as they try to get by... >> we're all struggling financially... >> america's middle class: rebuilding the dream only on al jazeera america!
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>> every sunday night al jazeera
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>> a new study questioning thera safety of fracking in the united states. fracking is the process of drawing natural gas from deep underground by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the earth. a report from the colorado school of public health says living close to a fracking site can increase birth defects by as much as 30%. joining us, is one of the lead authors. he is the professor of colorado university school of public health dr. newman, good to have you on the program. how many people did you study for this report and what kinds of birth defects could we be talking about here? >> hi, tony. we looked at the records on
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almost 125,000 live births in rural colorado. from a period of 1996 out to 2009. and we looked particular live at factors like whether there were heart defects, oral clefts, neural tube defects related to the nervous system, pre-term birth and the weight of infants. >> and what did you find? i have got the number here. but let me have you go beyond the number. >> what we found was first of all, this is the first study to try to look at this in such a large population in relation to natural gas drilling. and what we have found was that there was an association between how close you live if you were the mother how close you live to the wells and the likelihood of having a child who would have a congenital
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heart defect. most of the other findings in the study negative. meaning we did not find associations for many of the other factors of concern. so how far from these high density fracking areas were your subjects where you started to see what you concluded to be impact? >> well, the study mostly focused on people who lived within ten miles, a ten mile radius of the sites. and people who lived in areas that were much more removed. and we tended to look at the factories in two-ways. how dense and civilian sites were there near the mothers and how close were those wells to where the mothers lived. >> and does there need to be more work done on this? and i assume the answer is yes. but if you are living in one of these high density areas, is there something -- what should you be concerned about?
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what should you be thinking as a result of this initial report? >> at this point in time i want to really caution people that they should not over interpret the data. we should not jump to conclusions. had is just the first very early stage study on the isn't. there is going to need to be more research, as you said. i fundamentally believe that the public needs to be aware of this, acknowledge that there needs to be more research, but not take any personal action and i don't think there should be any public health action based on the study. it is just too soon. >> you don't even think there should be public health action at this point, anything from the government as a result of the report or do you just think there needs to be more work done? >> well, there is work that is on going. our epa is doing some work around this area. there are other researchers studying different facets of this. but, science takes time and until we have more evidence we
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shouldn't be jumping to conclusions. i think that there is room to take reasonable precautions. there has been a lot of action in our state already around trying to limit the -- and you know keep down the air pollution and water pollution concerns. so, there are steps being taken already that are precautionary. >> dr. newman, appreciate it. thanks for the time and thanks for joining us to talk about your study. thank you. former nba star dennis rodman is willing to trade places with imprisoned american kenneth bay the next time he visits north korea. >> i have sympathy with the fact that i don't want anyone to go anywhere in the country and be a hostage for something they did or did not do. like i said, i'm not in government. but living with the bay family, i feel for him. i feel for him deeply. i would do anything, i would literally, this is dennis
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rodman talking, if they said we will take dennis rodman and let kenneth bae go, i'll do that. straight ahead. take me. >> bae has been charged with -- has been given 15 years of hard labor for trying to overthrow the government. he was detained while leading a tour group. earlier rodman organized a basketball game earlier this month in honor of the korean leader. on the great barrier reef off the northeastern coast of australia is the largest coral reef home to more than 8,000 different species. andrew thomas explains why it is in the midst of a heated debate. >> already a united nations agency is considering whether to describe the wells heritage listed great barrier reef as in danger and others cry as a
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further threat has been approved. 3 million cubic meters of sand dredged will be dumped at sea within the great barrier reef marine park. the coal industry wants it deepened so it can export more material. they say 30 years of dredging elsewhere has had no negative impact on the reef. environmentalists disagree. they point to glad stone where an inquiry is on display. despite years of denials of port developers there who say runoff from land led to the flooding whistle-blowers now say leaking spoils from dredging operations are partly to blame. abbott point says 47 environmental conditions will be imposed and spoils won't be dumped over coral reefs. >> it is important to note that the approved area consists of sand, silt and
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clay and does not contain coral reef or sea grass beds. environmentalists say that is not enough. it blocks off light killing life. >> we will see the condition of the reef only get worse. and this is just -- there is 3 million cubic meters or 5 million tons of dumping is only the first of a number of professionals to expand ports and allow more dredging and dumping across the reef waters. the more industrial projects that are allowed the more fish suffer. >> the great barrier reef marine park authority is supposed to be an independent watchdog looking after the interest of the reef. critics point itout it is a government agency and the government has made it clear its priorities are economic. this decision environmentalists say amounts to putting the interest of australia's coal industry above those of the greatest natural resource. when we come back.
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your top stories on al jazeera america. as we leave, let's take you out to east rutherford new jersey. metlife stadium. there it is. home of super bowl xlviii on sunday. and guess what? the weather is going to be terrific. >> >> there's something seriously wrong... >> there's been acrimony... >> the conservative ideal... >> it's an urgent need... and a host willing to ask the tough questions >> how do you explain it to yourself? and you'll get... the inside story ray suarez hosts inside story next only on al jazeera america
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>> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris with a look at top stories. breaking news, the "new york times" reports that the port authority whole personally oversaw the controversial lane
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closures in new jersey says governor chris christie new about the closings when they were happening and has the evidence to prove it. in a letter his lawyer released today david wildstein says the orders to close the lanes on the george washington bridge came from the christie administration. chris christie denies that he was involved or knew anything about the closures. the first round of syrian peace talks are over with no concrete resolutions. they ended ended with promises f more negotiations in a week's time but syrian government representatives say they have to check with damascus first before they can return. secretary of state john kerry is expected to meet with opposition leaders from ukraine. kerry criticized ukraine's president today saying he hasn't done enough to end turmoil there. the president signed a law that drops the charges against arrested protesters if they leave government buildings. president obama is taking steps to help job seekers find work. one issue, applicants who can't find a job because they
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have been without work for extended period of time today the president ordered all agencies not to discriminate against the long term unemployed. those are the headlines. i'm tony harris. inside story is next on al jazeera america. >> >> we lost sight of a dirty little secret, traffic is terrible there and often paralyzed when the weather is sunny and warm. america's urban sprawl, on "inside story".

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